Kidnap & Ransom update November 25, 2018
25-Nov-18

AMERICAS

1. (HONDURAS, 22/11/18) Body of missing American found in Roatán

Honduran authorities have confirmed that the body found on 19 November in the area of West Bay, Roatán Island, belongs to American citizen Philip Foster Brown. Foster, who was a real estate broker residing in the island for several years, went missing on 17 November after he visited a night club. According to forensic information, the victim had been dead three to four days when the body was found. The police is currently investigating if the incident was a case of kidnap for ransom. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (MEXICO, 23/11/18) Bodies of eight kidnap victims found in Puebla

Puebla state authorities announced they found eight bodies in three different clandestine graves across the municipality of Ciudad Serdán. The bodies belong to people who had been kidnapped by an organised gang led by the former director of public security of the city, and which was dismantled last month. According to reports, the gang demanded a ransom from the victims’ relatives in spite of having killed the hostages right after their kidnapping. In order to keep the pretence that the victims were alive, the kidnappers kept body parts, which they sent to the relatives to press for payment. Four of the victims were elderly merchants, for whom the gang demanded MXP 2 million (almost USD 98,000). The relatives of two of them reportedly paid MXP 500,000 (USD 25,000) to the kidnappers. The other victims were young traders and professionals. For this group, the kidnappers demanded MXP 5 million (USD 244,500), each. In two cases, relatives paid MXP 200,000 (almost USD 10,000). It is not clear when the events took place. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

3. (CANADA, 23/11/18) Quebec real estate company targeted by ransomware

Real estate firm Brisson, Tremblay, Fleury and Associates was recently the victim of a ransomware attack. Reportedly, the hackers gained access to the company servers via an email sent to the company, claiming to be from a development association from the city of Chicoutimi. The attack, which was traced back to Ivory Coast, encrypted he company’s data, making it inaccessible. The company said the hackers demanded a ransom of “a few thousand US dollars” to allow access to the data. Reportedly, the company refused to pay and preferred to use cybersecurity specialists, who have now recovered and secure the data. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

4. (NIGER, 24/11/18) Suspected Boko Haram militants abduct dozens in Niger

Suspected members of Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram abducted dozens of girls in raids on several villages in Diffa region, along the Nigeria-Niger border, on 24 November. At least 16 girls were abducted from two villages in Toumour commune, nine in the village of Blaharde and seven more in Bague. A local source said the raids were carried out by more than 50 assailants. The latest abductions come two days after seven local employees of a French drilling firm and a government official were killed in southeast Niger after suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed their compound. FULL ARTICLE

5. (MADAGASCAR, 24/11/18) Nine tried for kidnapping and extortion

Nine people were tried in a court in Antananarivo on 23 November, accused of crimes including kidnapping and extortion. Four of the individuals were tried for the kidnapping of French-Indian businessman Hassim Riaz, which took place on 9 November. The businessman was released after a week, following the payment of an undisclosed ransom. The other three people were accused of threatening a businessman with kidnapping. Reportedly, the accused called the businessman on 14 November, demanding a payment of 200,000 ariary via mobile phone transfer, in order to avoid being kidnapped. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

6. (MALAYSIA, 24/11/18) Abu Sayyaf threat remains latent in Sabah

According to Malaysian authorities, the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM), recently thwarted at least 10 attempts by suspected Filipino kidnap gangs linked to the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) trying to sneak into the State. The suspected kidnappers were spotted by air patrols and fled when sea patrols moved closer to the border with the Philippines’ Tawi-Tawi islands. These incidents, in addition to recent armed encounters between the Philippine Armed Forces and ASG units in southern Philippines, have raised more concern among the Malaysian authorities that militants are still targeting Sabah’s east coast to execute kidnappings, despite strict security enforcements from both the Philippines and Malaysian authorities. FULL ARTICLE